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In September 1943, the troops of the Voronezh Front (1st Ukrainian it will later) went to the Dnieper. Vanguard Front were part of the 3rd Guards Tank Army. Tankers had to chase the retreating enemy and immediately seize on the right bank of the river a springboard for further offensive. Ideally, for such was required to capture the bridge. But in September the 43rd Army fishing is not lucky bridge in Kanev Germans blew up at the very moment when he drove the first “tridtsatchetvёrka.” Army pontoon park by the time the Dnieper “wandered” somewhere in the Kursk area.

Bukrinsky bridgehead

Ferries had to build from what was – though that the enemy in retreat very thoroughly took care of that, “was” as little as possible. Engineer units had to demonstrate the wonders resourcefulness. Highlight the sappers of the 69th Motorised Brigade: noticing the German shore submerged ferry at night they crossed to his improvised means, bailed water buckets and literally from under the noses of the enemy carried off the ferry to its shore. On the night of September 22, 69 motorized infantry brigade began to cross the Dnieper, capturing the first piece of the future Bukrin bridgehead. Soon they were joined by the 6th and 7th Guards Tank Corps.

Even the logs from which we could build rafts, the enemy were part burned, part transferred to the western bank of the river .

Originally, the enemy in this area was not a serious force. Only 21 September the Germans began to shift quickly from here Kanev district units of the 24th Panzer Corps. Besides Bukrinskaya bend was chosen without reason: here Dnipro wide arc arched eastward, allowing the advancing from three sides have to keep under fire portion of the right bank. The German artillery could also shoot at crossings or just blindly send aircraft.

However, a foothold in the bend had a downside: not being able to lose in the first days of the Soviet back into the Dnieper, the Germans began to seal the “neck of the jug,” pulling bridgehead to another part and forwards in Kremenchug 48th Panzer Corps. Trying to prevent the concentration of the Soviet command Germans dropping paratroopers too late and was poorly prepared: aircraft lost orientation, Troopers were scattered over a large area and not much was able to prevent the already approached the bridgehead German tank units.

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Hack gradually “be reinforced” Tank Defence cross to the bridgehead infantry could not, for it needed our own tanks. But just something they could not drag on “improvised means,” ie. E. On logs, hastily formed in rafts or just swimming. On light pontoons A-3 (from rubber boats) on the night of September 29, managed to smuggle 24 self-propelled guns SU-76. Trying to pile on these pontoons Spark T-34 ended in tears: “When loading a third ferry tank was crushed and sunk along with the tank near the shore. Tank and ferries were immediately removed from the water, and then the T-34 crossing by ferry boats from A-3 was not made “. Hastily passed pontoon army brigade began the construction of two crossings, but carrying capacity of 16 tons, they could provide a springboard supply. Only by 6 October managed to “drag” to the shore part of the ferry fleet N2P adapted to transport tanks. The beginning of the construction of a pile bridge was delayed because of bombing and shelling.

Changing the direction of impact

In these circumstances, to complete preparations for the offensive was only to 12 October. During this time the Germans had thoroughly “seal” out of the bend. Two attempts to break out of the river, “pitcher” to the operating room failed. Tries to attack the 27th and 40th Army could not break through the German defenses to provide input into the tanks “clean break”. And even the body of the 3rd Guards Tank Army could not make a difference. Bridgehead blocked securely.

This is only the first attack cost the 3rd Guards hundred lined “tridtsatchetvёrok”, 24 of which are burned.

tank attack forced the Germans to think what with Bukrin bridgehead into the trap which drove Russian unreasonable weight of their tanks, followed by further attempts to advance on Kiev.

Meanwhile, for September 24 Bet gave the order to transfer the command of the Voronezh Front direction of the main blow with Bukrin bridgehead on the north: Lyutezhsky. Primarily, this concerns mainly an indication of the impact force of the front – the 3rd Guards Tank Army. The task was not easy. Had to withdraw from the bridgehead around 400 tanks, 3,500 vehicles, hundreds of trucks, tractors and implements. It was not much easier than delivering them to the right bank.

Fortunately, cloudy with low clouds and dense fog over the river, worth almost until noon, although slightly detained crossing rates, but fairly reliably hid her from the enemy. Besides the bridgehead, as indicated Bids left all tanks needed repair – instead of the army received more than two hundred new tanks and self-propelled guns. At dawn on November 2nd 3rd Guards Tank focused on Lyutezhskogo springboard. After another day of blocked springboard German divisions roof caved in artillery fire. The result of 203-mm howitzers impressive – in the wee hours of artillery preparation on the part of the enemy’s fire were only some guns and mortars. The first 2 km attacking infantry passed, without meeting much resistance.

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On the first day of the offensive German defense was pressed infantry divisions. Rybalko Army clashed November 4th. As follows from the reports, “enemy at this site did not expect the appearance of large armored forces. This position is also supported by the fact that in the future, after entering the army in the breakthrough was not met however some Noteworthy antitank obstacles. “ destroyed tank on Bukrin bridgehead securely riveted the attention and the German command, and finds forces at his disposal. On Lyutezhsky their almost gone. So even started in the 3rd Guards Tank Army sapper group razgrazhdeniya not engaged in clearing minefields, and the destruction and capture of the remaining small groups of enemy.

By midnight, with 4 to 5 November armored brigades of the 7th Guards Tank Corps occupied the northern outskirts Sviatoshyn and cut the highway Kiev – Zhitomir. Now in Kyiv the remaining German units had only one escape route, highway and railroad Kiev – Fastow. However, for many of those who tried to leave, let this was the last. Fighting for Kiev lasted all day on 6 November until the middle of the day on November 6 was not eliminated last pockets of resistance.

With the dawn of the same day the 91-th separate tank brigade moved on fast, sweeping and crushing all who have had the on that day be in the way advancing Soviet tanks. By evening, the brigade came to the outskirts Fastova. Faced with strong resistance, the brigade commander Jakubowski imitated Fastova attack from the east, and the main forces brigade (armored and mechanized infantry battalion) attacked the city from the north. By the morning of November 7 Fastow was cleared of Germans.

Counterstrike General Schell

At this point, the German command attempted to make a retaliatory move. In a counterattack aimed fresh just transferred from France 25th Panzer Division.

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Further vividly painted in his memoirs F.Mellentin. “Day of November 7 vanguard of the 146th motorized rifle regiment met south Fastova Russian T-34 tanks and turned into a stampede. In these terrible mess neobstrelyannye part fled, and though the division commander, General Shell personally brought order and collected his part, he with great difficulty managed to break away from the Russian, destroyed almost all of their trucks. Happy November 8 von Schell arrived at our headquarters at White Church, and his division moved into our submission. “

November 9th Tank Regiment 25th Division arrived from Kirovograd. Division was ordered to do everything possible to delay the Russian advancing to the south and southwest. At this time the Germans were able to advance to the eastern margin Fastova but then attack again crashed against the Soviet troops. German losses in equipment and personnel were so great that the 25th Division a few weeks was not able to take any offensive action.

The fate of art of the 25th Panzer Division perfectly illustrates the pattern of the report of the trophy of the 3rd Guards Panzer Army. In the mountain of scrap metal, indicating shipped in December 1943 for 556 tons, it is clearly distinguishable from the crosses on the tank armor. The regular involving tanks and smashed the retreating army. In the following, the 44th, year of “shipments” of the German scrap will become even greater.

Lyricist – Andrei Ulanov

Andrey Ulanov – historian, author of books and articles on the history of the Great Patriotic War. The most famous work – “Procedures in armor” and “The first T-34” (with Dimitri Shein). He is currently working on a book about the Soviet antitank infantry during World War II and combat use of T-34 tanks in 1942.

Sources:

    TsAMO RF affairs of the Fund 315 (3rd Guards Tank Army).
  • “Tanks leads Fishing”. D. Shein.
  • “Battle of the Dnieper.” Goncharov.
  • “Tank Battles 1939-1945 .: Combat use of tanks in World War II.” FW Mellenthin.

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